Justice Mohammed S. Idris of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting in Jabi has transferred the case file of a property developer, Mr Cecil Osakwe, to the Chief Judge of the court, despite reservation from the counsel from the office of the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Mr Una Matthew, that the instruction from his principal was to go on with the criminal prosecution.
The absence of Osakwe in court makes it the third time he failed to appear in court for arraignment to face the criminal charge of fraud and criminal intimidation filed against him by the federal government.
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In June, the federal government dragged Mr Osakwe, managing director of Abeh Signature Limited, a property development company, before the court over an allegation of N130m fraud.
When the case came up Monday, September 19, the prosecutor told the court that the case is for the arraignment of the accused person.
But counsel to the accused person, Mr Victor Giwa, on his part, told the court that they have a pending petition before the AGF, asking him to intervene in the prosecution of his client.
He prayed the court to adjourn the case for two weeks to await the intervention of the AGF.
But Mr Matthew expressed reservation about the submission of the defence counsel, saying that the instruction he had from the office was to go on with the prosecution of the case.
Matthew said he is not aware of any petition and he had no instruction regarding that.
He informed the court that it was the highest investigative body of the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, Force Intelligence Bureau FIB, that carried out a thorough investigation and referred the case to the AGF for legal advice and prosecution.
He prayed the court to proceed with the arraignment of the accused person.
Despite the objection by the prosecution, the judge agreed to either adjourn the case for two weeks or send the case file back to the Chief Judge for re-assignment.
In a short ruling, the judge transferred the case file back to the Chief Judge for re-assignment.
For the third time, Osakwe, 54, failed to appear before the court after being charged with fraud.
However, at the last adjourned date, his lawyer, Orhakioyamhe Emmanuel Esq., gave an undertaking to the court to produce him on September 19.
But again, he failed to do so.
According to the court processes with charge number CR/244/2022, dated June 9, 2022, and filed on June 14, 2022, Mr Osakwe is accused of Advanced Fee Fraud punishable under section 3(1) of the Laws of the Federation 2004.
In the charge signed by Mr M. B. Abubakar, Director of Public Prosecution in the Federal Ministry of Justice, he was also accused of criminal intimidation of one Ms Asabe Waziri.
He was said to have threatened Ms Waziri with injury to her person and reputation with intent to cause harm and even death in order to cause her to stop requesting legitimately from him (Osakwe) her receipt for payment for the purchase of a unit of two bedroom flat with a maid’s quarters at Abeh Signature Apartments, Maitama Abuja.
According to court documents, in February 2021, she entered and concluded a contract to purchase a two-bedroom apartment at Maitama, and after full payment, Osakwe refused to issue her a receipt and sign the Deed of Assignment but rather began to threaten and make life miserable and unbearable for her.